business dependence on IT infrastructure increases,
IT is expected to stay ahead of service demand. Yet
enterprises are cautious about investing in new infrastructure
and want to do more with less. So companies must turn
to standard best practices for help. by K. P. Vinod
roadmap to profitable business is changing in corporations
around the world. IT resources are increasingly becoming
the delivery and support mechanisms behind corporate
initiatives which are viewed as the key enabler of overall
business goals. This reliance on the IT infrastructure
has created a strain on resources and has forced IT
organizations to increase productivity of infrastructure
resources, while decreasing costs associated with service.
Doing more with less is not an easy task.
Inevitably, therefore, companies must turn to standard
best practices for help. Best practices give companies
industry-proven ways to standardize their processes
and manage their IT environments. This customized approach
means that the tools to support these processes must
The leading standards in this area are the Information
Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL); British Standard
(BS15000); the emerging standard for IT service management
which is based on ITIL methodologies; and ISO 17799,
the global best practice standard for securing business
information which is based on the British Standard (BS7799).
The British Standards Institution (BSI) published in
1998 a revised Code of Practice for IT Service Management.
This code of practice documents the approach considered
by authors to be the current best industry practice.
The BSI Code sets out five processes, which encompass
IT Service Management. All the processes are heavily,
and necessarily, interdependent. The success of any
IT Service Management project depends on the successful
integration of the relevant processes.
The five integrated processes are:
Service Design and IT Management Processes
This process deals with the shape of IT Service Management,
and impacts strongly upon the quality and quantity
of the services delivered.
This process defines the correct relationship with
the customer and ensures that customer expectations
are realistic. This includes the relationship with
your own suppliers, and ensures that your expectation
is both realistic and delivered.
This process involves recording incidents and resolving
problems by providing comprehensive information at
the right level to the right people.
What do you have? Where is it? What does it do? To
deliver quality IT services this is the central information
that must be accurately maintained and easily accessed.
Nothing remains constant for long within an organization,
and that means new hardware, new networks, new software,
new buildings, new processes. All of these will require
careful management of the release of new items. Release
Management includes assessment of alternatives, specification,
introduction, training and assessment of the benefits
The ITIL Approach
The foundations to the Best Practices approach and addressing
the principles of IT Service Management in more detail
is the ITIL that offers a systematic, professional approach
to the management of the IT service provision.
ITIL is a set of best practices for IT Service Management
that has been evolving since 1989. It began as a set
of processes for use by the UK government to improve
IT Service Management, and has been adopted by the industry
as a basis for successful IT Service Management. It
is gaining worldwide acceptance as the standard for
IT Service Management. At the core of the library are
two volumes on the Service Management discipline, Service
Support and Service Delivery, which were rewritten in
2000/2001. Security is covered in the Security Management
volume produced in 1999. ITIL describes best practices
that can be utilized to best suit an organization.
All disciplines work together to deliver Service Management
to the business and users of IT systems. Users can be
employees of the organization or their partners and
customers who are increasingly using the IT services
directly, which is increasing the importance of effective
Both Service Support and Service Delivery interact with
Network Systems, Applications and Databases of the IT
infrastructure as well as the Operational Management
of those entities. The Customer Relationship Management
discipline manages the interaction between the Service
Delivery and Support Process and the users and customers
of the organization to whom the business services are
Finally, and increasingly important, is the management
of security of the IT Infrastructure and the Business
Services it is delivering.
The focus of ITIL in all its disciplines is on defining
the best practice for the processes and the responsibilities
that must be established to effectively manage the business'
IT services to drive forward the objectives of that
business in service delivery and revenue generation.
All of these processes could, in theory, be implemented
and supported without the use of IT tools. In practice,
in today's world, this would be impossible and electronic
systems are essential to support these processes where
Adopting the ITIL approach can provide:
Greater productivity and best use of skills and experience.
Increased customer satisfaction with IT services which
meet their needs.
Reduced risk of not being able to meet the business
requirements for IT services.
Reduced costs in developing procedures and practices
within an organization.
Better communication and information flows between
IT staff and customers.
Assurance to the IT director that staff is provided
with appropriate standards and guidance.
Quality approach to IT service provision.
There are also benefits to the customer of the IT services,
Reassurances that IT services are provided in accordance
with documented procedures (clear audit trail).
Ability to rely upon IT services, enabling the customer
to meet business objectives.
Provision of clearly defined contact points within
IT services for enquiries or discussions about changing
Knowledge that detailed information is produced to
justify for IT services and to provide feedback from
monitoring service level agreements.
The functions are inter-related, requiring information
flow between them. Organizations are most likely to
gain real benefit in the longer term from implementing
all of the processes rather than some discrete ones.
Without full implementation some important activities
and information will be missing.
The common approach brings with it a common language
of ITIL terms; which permits easier understanding of
suppliers and products. Perhaps this is best summarized,
and its importance demonstrated, by the BSI code of
practice when it states its aim to provide a common
reference standard for any enterprise offering services
to internal or external customers.
The best way to deliver the services that the business
needs is to identify and apply appropriate industry
Applying ITIL Best Practice IT Service Management provides
a thought-through, integrated approach, which can be
adapted to any organization and any mix of IT resources.
By providing a template for service development, it
allows the IT department to spend its energies on implementation,
rather than re-inventing the wheel.
Best Practice focuses IT resources on service quality
in fulfilling customer needs. It is a platform for moving
away from yesterday's frustrating, technology-driven
culture of IT services.
Implementation of Best Practice requires an IT Management
software solution that is capable of integrating detailed
information from all sources and in providing access
to accurate, relevant management information on demand.
Many vendors have developed software solutions that
have grown with the theory, adding bolt-on modules along
the way. However, few have leapt forward to delivering
a best practice engine based on ITIL guidelines.
In the end, the best solution will be determined by
your projections of future needs. In considering the
best overall solution, it may be worth considering bolt-on
modules or scrapping the current platform and trading
up to an integrated suite. Whatever path is chosen,
the management information it delivers should be tested
against the requirements of fulfilling ITIL Best Practice.
The writer is Director-Marketing, Computer Associates